In his capacity as a VIP baseball writer, the present author has access to the glorious major-league equivalent (MLE) data produced by Jared Cross’s Steamer projection system. In his capacity as a very irresponsible citizen, the present author has decided to present here five notable batter MLEs from the 2013 season, where notable appears to be defined as belonging to a player who (a) was 27 or younger in 2013, (b) received little (or nothing) in the way of major-league playing time in 2013, and also (c) received little (or nothing) in the way of exposure in 2013.
It’s for the second and third reasons there that players such as Seattle’s Nick Franklin, Minnesota’s Miguel Sano, and Houston’s George Springer — despite all having produced formidable MLE lines — are absent from the following.
Offensive and defensive value (denoted as Off and Def, respectively) are expressed relative to league average. Offensive value accounts for baserunning, in addition to batting. Defensive value accounts both for defensive runs and positional adjustment. Both metrics were recently explored by Dave Cameron in these pages.
All figures marked by an asterisk (*) denote instances in which the author has taken terrible, terrible liberties with the Steamer data. Overall baserunning value, for example, has been estimated irresponsibly using Steamer’s translated stolen-base data. Fielding and positional values, moreover, have been estimated even more irresponsibly according to positional adjustment, available defensive metrics, and scouting reports. WAR550, meanwhile, is an estimate of the player’s translated WAR over 550 plate appearances.
Name: Abraham Almonte, 24, OF (Link)
Organization: Seattle Level: Triple-A (Pacific Coast)
MLE: 396 PA, .289/.361/.429 (.329 BABIP), +11 Off*, -2 Def*, 3.4 WAR550*
Notes: Almonte might very well end up belonging to that class of outfielders who has neither the speed native to center fielders nor the power typically attendant to corner outfielders, but one who simultaneously provides value to his club, nonetheless. He controlled the plate excellently at Triple-A Tacoma, recording walk and strikeout rates there of 12.4% and 16.7%, respectively. He did that less excellently in 82 late-season plate appearances with the Mariners (7.3% BB, 25.6% K), although still managed a roughly league-average batting line over that stretch.
Name: Dean Anna, 26, 2B/SS (Link)
Organization: San Diego Level: Triple-A (Pacific Coast)
MLE: 582 PA, .292/.357/.411 (.321 BABIP), +5 Off*, +5 Def*, 3.0 WAR550*
Notes: Anna split his defensive starts in 2013 roughly between second base and shortstop, which is why the author has assigned him a defensive rating (+5 runs) that’s roughly the average of a second baseman (+2.5 runs) and shortstop’s (+7.5 runs) positional adjustment for WAR. In truth, that same author is wholly unfamiliar with Anna’s defensive reputation. Otherwise, he (i.e. Anna, not the author) is an interesting case: he’s controlled the plate for almost the entirety of his minor-league career (12.5% BB, 13.3% K) while also exhibiting not no power. That’s useful, all around.
Name: Billy Burns, 23, OF (Link)
Organization: Washington Level: High-A (Carolina)
MLE: 402 PA, .266/.343/.315 (.296 BABIP), +6 Off*, +4 Def*, 3.4 WAR550*
Notes: Burns’ offensive numbers here are buoyed significantly by very strong baserunning figures. The Nationals prospect stole 74 bases between High- and Double-A this season on just 81 attempts — arguably the most impressive combination of efficiency and volume in all the minor leagues (including Billy Hamilton). Moreover, Burns recorded walk and strikeout rates of 12.9% and 9.2%, respectively, with High-A Potomac. Given his lack of power (he’s hit one home run in 1155 minor-league plate appearances), it’s wholly reasonable to expect a decline in Burns’ walk rate. Still, there’s promise here.
Name: Kole Calhoun, 25, OF (Link)
Organization: Los Angeles AL Level: Triple-A (Pacific Coast)
MLE: 274 PA, .303/.366/.501 (.321 BABIP), +15 Off*, -4 Def*, 4.3 WAR550*
Notes: Calhoun actually recorded 222 plate appearances with the Angels in 2013, but they occurred almost exclusively in August and September, when the team was in no danger of threatening for a playoff spot, so it’s possible that his performance went unnoticed. The major-league figures were good (.282/.347/.462, .311 BABIP). The minor-league figures (translated above) were also quite good. A brief inspection of Calhoun’s player page reveals, also, some optimism on Steamer’s part regarding Calhoun’s 2014 season: in 558 PAs, he’s projected to produce a 120 wRC+ and 2.5 WAR.
Name: Cesar Puello, 22, OF (Link)
Organization: New York NL Level: Double-A (Eastern)
MLE: 377 PA, .284/.345/.441 (.361 BABIP), +11 Off*, -3 Def*, 3.2 WAR550*
Notes: Puello is both the youngest player on this list and also the one, likely, with the highest ceiling. He has, in his minor-league career, demonstrated the capacity to hit for average and to hit for power and to run and to field and to throw. In the most recent minor-league season, he did a lot of those thing simultaneously, producing about two translated wins in 377 plate appearances despite a raw walk-to-strikeout ratio of just 28:82. Of course, things didn’t end terrifically: at the beginning of August, Puello was suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. His youth, however — and the fact that he’d demonstrated all the aforementioned skills previously — suggests a major-league career is a possibility.